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Canada’s strategy for Syria

Canada’s programming and engagement concerning the Syrian conflict are key components of Canada’s whole-of-government Middle East Strategy. Canada has invested over $4 billion over six years (2016-2022 ) to respond to the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, and their impact in the region, in particular on Jordan and Lebanon.

The Syrian conflict is a complex crisis with high levels of violence that have forced millions of people to flee the country. Many more civilians have fled their homes but remain displaced within Syria and have urgent humanitarian needs.

To address the effects of the conflict, Canada is supporting four main strategic objectives:

Providing gender-responsive, needs-based humanitarian assistance to crises-affected populations

Canada is one of the top humanitarian donors to international efforts to address the Syrian crisis.

Our flexible, multi-year approach to humanitarian assistance funding allows partners to better prepare and respond to the evolving situation in Syria. There are 6.6 million internally displaced people in Syria and more than 11 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as of December 2020. The political dynamics of the conflict, restrictions on humanitarian access, and numerous violations of international humanitarian law make for a very hostile environment for humanitarian workers.

In Syria, Canada’s gender-responsive humanitarian assistance works through experienced partners including UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement to help vulnerable individuals to meet their basic needs and access social and public services. These include:

Our partners ensure the specific needs, priorities and capacities of vulnerable and marginalized people are integrated into the humanitarian response.

Helping communities build their resilience in the face of protracted conflict

Canada’s small-scale, targeted development projects aim to advance the rights and empowerment of Syrian women and girls. This is in addition to helping individuals and communities more effectively withstand the effects of the crisis. We contribute to livelihoods programming in Syria, specifically targeting female-headed households to promote their self-reliance and autonomy.

We are also helping to build the capacity of women’s organizations and local groups to actively participate in community-level economic decision-making and raise awareness of affected communities about explosive hazards.

Supporting efforts on accountability related to war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and allegations of chemical weapons use

Canada is supporting accountability and transitional justice initiatives that aim to hold the Syrian regime and other parties in the conflict accountable for violations of international law and crimes against humanity. We are helping to fund the United Nations’ International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to collect evidence about war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Efforts are focused on assisting Syrian civil society to play an effective role in peacebuilding and accountability efforts, while supporting the increased political participation of women.

We are investing heavily in efforts to reduce chemical weapons (CW) threats in Syria through programming being implementing by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and other organizations. Canada is supporting partner missions and operations related to chemical weapons destruction, verification and monitoring, and investigation and identification to attribute responsibility for CW use in Syria.

Supporting diplomatic initiatives that contribute to a sustainable political resolution of the conflict

We maintain clear and consistent support for a Syrian-led political process leading to a negotiated solution to the conflict. Canada is providing support to key stakeholders, Syrian civil society groups, and formal and informal mediation processes. This includes support to increase the participation of women in peace negotiations.

We are working with allies, like-minded countries, and the United Nations, including its Special Envoy for Syria to advocate and maintain international attention on the impact of the conflict on civilians. This includes through improved humanitarian access and ceasefires, respect for human rights law, international humanitarian law, and adherence to related UN Security Council Resolutions.

We are a leading voice on accountability for chemical weapons use and evidence collection to support the prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity. We advocated successfully for the creation of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks confirmed by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission.

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